A Byzantine church dating back to the 6th century was uncovered in the Jericho area of the West Bank, the Civil Administration’s Archaeological Unit announced Wednesday.
According to The Times of Israel, the church is about 250 square meters large, which would have made the ancient building one of the largest places for Christian worship at the time. The Civil Administration, which oversees activity in the West Bank, pointed out that the church had still been used during the Early Muslim Period, and its mosaic floors showed “no indications of damage from destructive iconoclasm” despite Islam’s ban of the display of icons and images in public places.
The church’s nave, a section specifically made for the laity, was almost completely preserved, and is covered with a mosaic depicting vine braids and animal figures.
The Civil Administration noted that materials outside the local area, including marble and black bitumen stone, were used to build the church and that transporting them would have been difficult.
As reported by the outlet, the church survived a major earthquake in A.D. 749, while other churches in the region were destroyed. It was likely that the church was already abandoned by the time the earthquake struck the region.
The Civil Administration said it “sees great importance in the discovery of antiquities” and will continue its archeological efforts “for the continued discovery of the area’s glorious past.”
Jericho, a city that was conquered by the Israelites and their leader Joshua in the Old Testament, has long been rendered a place of religious importance for Christians, Jews and Muslims. It is also one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Middle East.
Most notably, Joshua was destroyed after Joshua led Israelites around the city for seven days while God’s people carried the Ark of the Covenant.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Rex Wholster
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.